Fighting Chance Boxing Club: A new setting and new structure for north Minneapolis youth

Fighting ChanceTwenty-five volunteers gathered with Foundation staff on a recent sunny spring day to beautify the grounds of Fighting Chance Boxing Club, a new nonprofit in north Minneapolis.  The mission of Fighting Chance is to effect positive change in north Minneapolis youth through boxing and physical fitness.  Their vision is to create a community of hopeful and empowered youth who achieve self-discipline, confidence, compassion and mutual respect.  Fighting Chance represents a new approach to reaching kids with positive structure and support during out-of-school time.  The Pohlad Foundation was excited to once again partner with Metro Blooms in creating a landscaping project in which the Club and larger community can take pride.  The effort took place days ahead of a large open house in Fighting Chance’s newly converted former firehouse building.  Staff and volunteers accomplished much around the exterior of the building–digging, re-soding, planting, mulching–to compliment the impressive remodeling of the interior.  Visit Fighting Chance on Facebook.


Volunteers landscape Bethune School in time for first day of classes

Bethune_projectAbout 40 employees from various Pohlad businesses in the Twin Cities rolled up their sleeves on an unseasonably cool August 19th, 2015 to weed, rake, turn over soil, afdfgsdfdfggnd situate nearly 450 new plantings.  The site chosen, Bethune Elementary in north Minneapolis, has one of the highest proportions of students eligible for free and reduced lunch in the city.  The Pohlad Foundation coordinated the project along with Metro Blooms, a nonprofit on the north side dedicated to promoting and practicing landscaping that improves the health of our land and water resources.  All work was completed before the end of the day so Bethune’s front entrance looks sharp and welcoming for the new academic year, helping students and staff take pride in their school. 


Fifty bikes donated to kids in advance of 2014 MLB All-Star Game   

Bikes_In_GymIn conjunction with the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field, 50 kids active with the Boys & Girls Clubs and the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities received new bicycles and helmets donated by the Pohlad Family Foundation and the Minnesota Twins.  The giveaway on July 7th included an appearance by Twins Mascot T.C. on his own custom bike at the Community Center building at North Commons Park in north Minneapolis. 

“With Minneapolis routinely ranked among the top bike-friendly cities in the nation, the Pohlad Foundation wishes to inspire the next generation of bike enthusiasts,” said Gina DiMaggio, program officer at the Pohlad Foundation.  




Pohlad Companies Volunteers Plant 1600 Trees, Shrubs in Former St. Paul Brownfield

Click here for a brief video about the project!

Habitat_RestorationMore than 100 Pohlad employees rolled up their sleeves at the new Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary just north of downtown St. Paul on the morning of May 16, 2014 for an inaugural volunteer habitat restoration event.  Great River Greening was one of eleven organizations selected to receive an All-Star Legacy Grant to commemorate the 2014 MLB All-Star Game coming to Target Field this July.  The grant provided the resources to implement part of the restoration plan and buy 1,600 plants for seven acres while Pohlad employees provided the labor Twins_Mascotneeded to plant trees and shrubs. Volunteers took a break from digging, planting, and watering to hear Great River Greening Ecologist Steve Thomforde provide a history of the site from Native American fishing brook to industrial rail yard to restoration project—part of a larger “vision to connect the heavily-urbanized North and East side neighborhoods of St. Paul to the Mississippi River.” (GRG website)  

The former 42 acre railroad site is being restored to a natural, native habitat over the next four years through a partnership between Great River Greening and the City of St. Paul’s Parks and Recreation Department.  When completed, it will provide not only critical habitat, but a beautiful new park for residents in a formerly industrial and unused area.  The Twin Cities is known to have an excellent parks system, and this project showcases this strength to the public.  The All-Star Legacy Fund at the Minneapolis Foundation was created with support from the Pohlad Family Foundation, Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball. 


Neighborhood Placemaking sledding event–Dayton’s Bluff, St. Paul

SleddingThe Dayton’s Bluff Community Council in St. Paul showed the city how to have fun in the cold!  Community members made use of a small Neighborhood Placemaking grant (details below) from the Pohlad Foundation to organize a rare outdoor winter gathering in Margaret Park–an underutilized public space.  Forty-five sleds were given away to neighborhood kids to encourage outdoor recreation close to home.  The event was held in conjunction with the St. Paul Winter Carnival and turnout was excellent, despite single digit temps.  A warming tent with hot cocoa and cookies was a popular hangout between sledding runs.

The park’s original rec center building was torn down due to a leaky roof and other structural problems.  The community is putting together a new plan for the park and now that many neighborhood kids have experienced sledding fun, Margaret Park should see much more winter activity.  Hopefully this positive experience encourages neighbors to get involved in the master plan for the park and utilize this valuable outdoor space for their families year-round.


Neighborhood Placemaking Pilot Program

In June 2013, the Foundation announced a program of small community building grants for resident-led projects targeted at areas of north Minneapolis and the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood in St. Paul.

Residents in eligible neighborhoods were asked to consider:

  • How would you build community and improve your neighborhood?
  • What ideas do you have to highlight your community’s assets, nurture or define community identity, serve the common needs of groups, foster frequent and meaningful human interaction, create improved accessibility, draw a diverse population and/or reinvigorate an area?
  • What changes could create good public spaces, promote safety, health and comfort, and ultimately make your neighborhood a more desirable place to live?

Following a pair of informational meetings and a review of applications, the Foundation made 7 grants totaling $30,050 to:

  • Cleveland Neighborhood Association
  • Harrison Neighborhood Association
  • Victory Neighborhood Association
  • Dayton’s Bluff Community Council; Subdistricts A, B, C, and D

Projects included a network of free “little libraries,” a large mural in a commercial area, and a multicultural drumming exhibition.


North Minneapolis Vacant Housing Research

During 2011 the Foundation supported a research project of the Folwell Center for Urban Initiatives that examined the impact of vacant homes in North Minneapolis.  The recently concluded study created a new tool (Housing Market Index) to assist all entities and individuals interested in investing in North Minneapolis.  A link to the full report follows:  

North Minneapolis Housing Market Index Report (pdf)